Miners – stories to remember


Mijnwerkers : Verhalen Om Te Onthouden

Wim Nijsten, Jos Bours en Marlies Hautvast 

Nijmegen: LINK, 1980.


number of interviews: 60

accessibility of source material: unknown


“Als je de lectuur leest van al die mijnbouwkundigen of die hoge pieteberen, dan zeg je: ‘Nou, dat is een heel aardige zaak, die mijnen!’ Maar kijk, ik geloof dat als je als generaal ergens in een frontoorlog een boek daarover schrijft, dat het dan een veel aardiger boek wordt, dan als die vent in de drek en de modder wat schrijft – die man die zijn eigen kameraden moet afmorksen.

“When you read the readings of all those mining experts or those high peeps, you say, ‘Well, that’s a very nice thing, those mines!’ But look, I believe that if, as a general somewhere in a front war, you write a book about that, it will be a much nicer book, than if the guy in the muck and mud writes something – that guy who has to afmork his own comrades.

That guy at the bottom, who just has to see it through to the top, and that guy behind his lavish desk, that’s quite a difference. The gentlemen’s reading on the history of the mining industry may be nice, but it is very different from if I were writing the history of the mines. And you may quietly know from me that I read such books by those gentlemen with mixed feelings.”


Wim Nijsten (former miner), Jos Bours (dramatist) and Marlies Hautvast (community worker) asked sixty former miners in Limburg about their lives and their work. This book is the result. It became a history from below; a book that can be read as a novel, and as an introduction to economics. Not a raunchy commemorative book, but stories to remember.